Native Scientist from Procter & Gamble Inspires Students

posted on February 11, 2013
by Christopher Ives 

Students in Science Department Chair Wendell Gehmen's class recently heard from industry-leading scientist Dr. Allyn M. Kaufmann during a visit made possible by a generous grant from the Toyota Foundation. Dr. Kaufmann is a Senior Scientist for the Procter and Gamble Company working on research and development teams to deliver new personal healthcare products for the Vicks brand. Most recently, Dr. Kaufmann helped deliver the new technology for the ZzzQuill, a new sleep-aid in the Nyquil/Dayquil lines.

Dr. Kaufmann is originally from Oklahoma and was raised in the rural areas outside of the Quapaw reservation. He is a member of the Quapaw Tribe and his family, Leading Fox, hails from the Pawnee Nation.

During his visit Dr. Kaufmann shared some of his personal struggles as a high school student and undergraduate at the University of Kansas. He also spoke to students about the importance of learning from strong role models, including teachers, coaches and mentors. While at the University of Kansas, Dr. Kaufmann was the first participant in the Initiative for Minority Student Development. The teachers and mentors within this program connected him with some of his first experiences in a laboratory, which ultimately led him to a doctoral program in 2004 in pharmaceutical chemistry.

Recalling these experiences during his talk with the students, Dr. Kaufmann illustrated the importance of discovering your passions and making smart choices in life.

“The presentation really resonated with our students because of his age and personal struggles.,” says Gehmen. “As a young PhD, I believe that the students were inspired by his personal journey. During his time as an undergraduate, Dr. Kaufmann had a low GPA and almost dropped out. But through support from his mentors, he was able to find his passion and succeed.  I think that our students were inspired to pursue their own passion.” 

Gehmen is now looking forward to bringing more professional scientists into the classroom to build upon the inspiration and perspective created through Dr. Kaufmann’s visit.

Students from Mr. Gehmen's class with Dr. Kaufmann (center, blue shirt)